Recent literature on financial reporting underlines that, in order to meet the changing needs of business reporting users, more information with a forward-looking perspective should be provided, with a focus on those factors that are responsible for longer-term value, including non-financial measurers. This article hence focuses on the importance of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in Management Commentary (MC). Through content analysis, we examine a sample of 111 reports from around the world (following different local and/or international regulations). The paper explores how organizations in practice use KPIs for external purposes, first investigating to what extent KPIs provide the information required by the MC frameworks, and, secondly, whether such KPIs have the suggested characteristics. Results show that although KPIs seem to potentially play a valuable and recognized role in providing the information required by the different MC frameworks, a large number of companies have not provided an effective and balanced picture of the drivers and factors that will lead their future performance. This paper contributes to the scarce research on the effectiveness of different approaches to regulate MC reports, with a specific focus on KPIs. It also highlights some critical issues concerning what and how KPI information should be produced and reported.
Keywords: management commentary, key performance indicators, content analisys, financial measures, non financial measures, forward-looking indicators